A slow boat across the Atlantic plus a scenic train home to Vancouver add up to a hugely enjoyable three-week trip
Are you a crew member? the security guard asked, fixing me with a stare in the vans rear-view mirror. Passenger, I replied. The guard gave me a quizzical look then muttered something to himself in German, shaking his head. It was 7am and the port of Hamburg was a hive of activity, our port security van speeding past whirring cranes and towering stacks of shipping containers. As the ships immense hull came into view, I entered a world where everything was larger, louder and more dangerous than my life on land. The 300-metre, 100,000-tonne vessel before me was to be my home for the next 15 days.
Four months earlier I had made a reservation on a cargo ship to take me from Hamburg to Halifax, Nova Scotia. My European work visa was expiring and I hoped to make it home to the west coast of Canada in time for Christmas. Recent campaigns such as the Swedish flygskam (flight shame) had shone a harsh light on my blindness to the climate impact of air travel, and I had decided that booking a flight wasnt an option. Since 2017, Id emitted over 14 tonnes of carbon from flights alone. I realised that all my efforts to reduce my carbon footprint at home in Milan I cycle to work, limit food waste and seldom buy new clothes are wiped out by just one flight between Canada and Europe.